La Liga planning rules to control spending

MADRID - Spain's football league (LFP) plans to implement rules designed to control spending by clubs, its president was quoted as saying on Tuesday, as a study warned Spanish football was slipping into an "economic coma."

The proposed rules are in line with UEFA regulations that begin to come into force next season and aim to stop clubs racking up unsustainable debts, LFP president Jose Luis Astiazaran said in an interview with As sports daily.

"Spanish football needs to make progress towards an exemplary state of solvency," Astiazaran said.

"Among the clubs that form the LFP we currently have some dysfunctions which we have to get under control and we will make some decisions that will not be pleasant," he added.

"It's time to marry the sporting excellence we have achieved with financial excellence.

"Spanish football, and La Liga to be exact, has gained global admiration and we have to earn this distinction for economic management as well."

The LFP plans to establish a control committee made up of independent professionals who would assess clubs' accounts and recommend possible sanctions for transgressors.

These could include docking of points or the withdrawal of licences for the worst offenders, an LFP spokesman said.

The rules are due to be voted on at a general assembly on July 12 and would be introduced over a period of three years.

The interview with Astiazaran was published on the same day that a study highlighted the woeful financial state of many of the clubs in Spains's top two divisions.

Many have overspent on players and wages in an attempt to compete with richer clubs and try to preserve their place in the first division.

Some, like top-flight sides Real Mallorca and Real Zaragoza, are in administration, along with all three teams that were promoted from the second division at the end of last season; Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Granada.

TIGHTROPE WALK

Jose Maria Gay a professor of accounting at the University of Barcelona and the report's author, said the situation had been deteriorating for years while the sporting authorities sat on their hands.

"We are European and world champions, we have the great Barcelona and the famous Real Madrid but Spanish football is caught up in an economic storm and foundering under a highly virulent financial tempest," he said.

Gay's latest study, based on annual accounts up to the end of June 2010, showed the 20 clubs in the top flight made a combined net loss of 100 million euros, up from 19 million in the year-earlier period.

At 3.43 billion euros, total debt fell slightly from the previous year but was still more than double revenue of 1.61 billion euros.

Gay said that many clubs had got into difficulty because the economic downturn meant they could no longer rely on the sales of players or real estate that had kept them afloat in the past.

The distribution of income from television rights, which sees Real Madrid and Barcelona taking half the pot of around 600 million euros, was another factor making the economic model of Spanish football unsustainable, he added.

"Spanish football is walking a tightrope," he said. "The bad thing is that nothing has been done to resolve a serious situation that is becoming more and more acute each season."


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